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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Parenthood is a daunting task- you must ensure that your kids stay safe and healthy while helping them grow into independent, well-adjusted young adults. According to a 2001 study, 12.8% of all fatal traffic crashes were alcohol-related in the United States, and 40% of that number involved teens driving while drinking alcohol.

Why do teens drive drunk?
No teen is exempt from the threat of drinking and driving. It doesn’t matter if he is a good student, captain of the football team, class president, etc. All it takes is one slip-up to ruin lives. Sadly, more than five million American high school students binge drink at least once per month. Many stay in denial cajoling themselves that they are not “that” drunk, succumb to peer pressure or too scared to tell their parents they need a safe ride home- hence often resort to hitting the road — a recipe for disaster for themselves, their passengers, and any innocent motorists who get in their path.

Below we have some preventive measures that parents can take to keep their teens safe.

When Consuming Alcohol
Teach your teen to be a safe and responsible passenger. Remember that 50 percent of teens who die in car accidents are passengers not drivers. Tell your teen to never ride with anyone who has been drinking, even if he doesn’t seem drunk.

Know the details when your teen leaves the home: where are they going, who is going with them, what transportation are they using, and when will they be back.

Have curfews and always wait up for your teen. Have a brief conversation with him about his night. Watch for signs of drinking (slurred speech, inability to focus eyes, swaying movement when walking, etc.).

Be responsible yourself. Never let your teen see you drunk or drive after a couple drinks.

Teach them the potential cost of their actions. Let your teen know that underage drinking is dangerous and unacceptable. Besides the obvious consequences of death and crippling injuries, talk to him about the economic consequences (what happens if he gets a DUI). The entire family can be cancelled from insurance. He will lose his license and receive enormous fines. It will be on his record for a very long time, ruining the possibility of scholarships, job opportunities, admission to some colleges, etc.

Tell your teen you will pick her up if he/she can’t drive or doesn’t have a ride.

Never condone underage drinking. Never serve alcohol or alcoholic beverages to minors.

When Throwing a Party
Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Water, juice, soda pop – give your guests plenty of alternatives. And never pressurize guests to drink alcohol.

Serve plenty of food. A full stomach can slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Serve a great meal or have plenty of appetizers on hand.

Be aware of the local DUI laws of your state and make sure your kids are aware of the laws too. Any driver refusing a breath test will face extra charges in every state, but special zero tolerance laws will up the stakes for anyone under 21. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, this could even possibly lead to a DUI felony.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to stay away from drinking.

Image courtesy of Greencolander via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.